March 2020 OES Beacon

The OES Newsletter – A Beacon Beaming the Activities of the Society for Fifty Years

Stan Chamberlain (Initial OES President) and Fred Maltz (longest serving OESNL Editor)   

Stan Chamberlain
Fred Malz

The Early Years: 1970 – 1990

The newsletter (NL) of the Oceanic Engineering Society (OES) is one of only two activities of the OES that have existed over the full 50 years of the Society’s existence (the other being the OCEANS Conference). The NL began in simple form in 1970 without a designated continuing editor until 1973 when Donald Bolle from Brown University assumed that role. Professor Bolle continued as NL editor until 1978 when he relinquished it to became the founding Editor-in-chief (EIC) of the new IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering (JOE). At that point, the initial form of the OES was the Oceanography Coordinating Committee (OCC), an organizational form allowed by IEEE to sponsor conferences and have a newsletter but did not allow it to produce an archival journal. By 1973, The OCC had transitioned into the Council on Oceanic Engineering (COE), a form which was allowed by IEEE to have such a journal. The members of the COE were other IEEE societies, not individual IEEE members. With the need to organize OCEANS conferences at various locations, the desire for member individuals and local chapters was fulfilled by transitioning from a council to a society to become the Oceanic Engineering Society on January 1, 1983, with Stan Chamberlain as its initial President.

Front cover of the September 1981 issue
Front cover of the June 1983 issue

Harold (Hal) Sabbagh was the NL editor from 1978 to 1990. In addition to including calls for papers for OCEANS and other conferences, the various activities of the COE, and the oceans-related activities of COE’s (society) members, the NL published technical articles of general interest to its readers. One such feature article was “An Overview of the U.S. OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) Development Program,” by Robert Cohen from the U.S. Department of Energy, in the March 1979 issue. The June 1982 issue included the full Technical Program for the OCEANS 82 Conference. The NL contained the “It’s A Puzzlement” series with puzzles to challenge readers. One such example (from the December 1981 issue) is the “Chinese Rug Puzzle”: A rug that is 10 ft by 10 ft is to be cut on a continuous line. The two parts are to be combined with a second rug that is 1 ft by 8 ft to form a single rug that is 9 ft by 12 ft. Show how to make the cut. Those of you who choose to test your skill can compare your answer to that in the March 1982 issue (linked from the OES website, Publications, OES Beacon Newsletter, Recent and Past Issues, Past Issues (pdf)). Hal Sabbagh had an entertaining sense of humor. In his last issue he said: “I am retiring as OES Newsletter editor, so it is my duty to reminisce. When I assumed this position in 1978, the Chicago Daily News had just ended publication, and this past year the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner went belly-up. Hence, of the three great American newspapers, only the OES Newsletter has survived the last dozen years. (Yes, I know that the OES Newsletter is a transnational publication, but calling it an American newsletter fits the context better, don’t you think?)” Given all the other newspapers that have hit the skids since then, I guess the staying power of the OES Newsletter is even more remarkable today, don’t you think?

The longest tenured OES NL editor was the late Fred Maltz, who served from 1990 to 2009 (See following Fred’s Obituary). To summarize the NL under his editorship, I’ll let him do the summarizing in the following unpublished article Fred produced in 2005 as background for the paper “The IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society at Forty: The Challenges of an Evolving Society,” JOE, January 2008, pp. 1-54.

The Middle Years: 1990 – 2009 (by Fred Maltz)

Hal Sabbagh was the first, long standing, editor of the OES Newsletter (OESNL).  He served in this capacity from 1978 to 1990.  Fred Maltz became the new editor in 1990. The next year, the first IEEE produced OESNL appeared when Glen Williams was president of the OES.  A paper by John J. Carey and Joseph R. Vadus, which described the role of NOAA in the development, utilization and conservation of the oceans and their resources was featured in the Summer 1992 issue of OESNL.  The following year, Stan Chamberlain published a description of the OES Technology Committees in the Spring 1993 issue of OESNL. This was also a call for participation from the general membership and the beginning of a discourse in OESNL on Technology Committees activities.

In 1993, OESNL began the publishing of Winning Student Papers at OCEANS Conferences, coordinated by Norman Miller.  Also, in 1994, OESNL included an interesting paper on the history of the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory in the early 40’s, thanks to Roger Dwyer.  It was in 1994 under the OES President, Joe Czika, that OESNL began to publish Editorials from the Vice Presidents of the Society.  There were two editorials in the Fall 1994 issue, one by Jim Collins, VP for Technical Activities and one by Norman Miller, VP for Professional Activities.  Also, in 1994 OESNL began to report on Chapter Activities. This first report was from Ed Early, Chapter Coordinator and Jim Barbera, Washington/Northern Virginia Chapter Chairman.

It was in 1994 that OES held its first OCEANS Conference outside the North American Continent and the U.S.  Subsequently there were three international news items carried in OESNL in 1995.  The first was the editorial by Ferial El-Hawary, VP International, announcing the success of the first of the International OCEANS Conference Series, OCEANS’94/OSATES, which was held in Brest, France, during September, 1994.  The second was a report on further details of the Brest conference by Glen Williams. The third international article was a reprint from the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Society Newsletter entitled “A Short History of French Trans-Atlantic Cables from the French Viewpoint” by Rene Salvador.  This article was supplied by Tom Carver who was transitioning their newsletter to a magazine at the time.  Tom lived on Cape Cod, MA, and noted that the U.S. terminus was in Orleans, MA, which is now a museum.  This was the second part of an article, the first of which was published in the Winter 1994 OESNL, entitled “The French Cable Museum,” also courtesy of Tom Carver.  Coincidentally, the French terminus was outside of Brest, France, in Deolen.

In the ensuing years, 1996 and 1997 OESNL began reporting on IEEE inter-society activities.  This included the “Sharing Activities Letters” of Harold Goldberg who was Chair for the IEEE Technical Activities Board’s Public Relations Committee, and Norman Miller’s reporting on the Professional Activities Council for Engineers, which is part of the IEEE U.S. Activities Board. Also, in 1997, OESNL began the “Who’s Who In The OES” column originated by Ed Early. These years saw the transitioning of the OES leadership from the presidents Glen Williams and Joe Czika to Claude Brancart who previously served as OES Secretary.  The next stated goal envisioned by Claude was for the newsletter to improve graphical presentation and coverage of individual members within the OES. Since that time a more personal touch has been evolving in the newsletter.

In 1998, OESNL began to appear on the Web.  The first two issues appeared in PDF form only, and after that in both PDF and HTML.  This was also the year that the OCEANS conference returned to France.  This time it was held in Nice, France.  In the Fall ’98 issue of OESNL, Rene Garello, OCEANS’98 Technical Committee Co-chair and President of the IEEE/OES French Chapter, proclaimed that the conference was clearly a success. Throughout 1999, under the new leadership of Glen Williams who returned to serve another term as president, the OES explored various options for delivering the newsletter to its members. Finally, with such faithful advocates as Joseph Vadus, in early 2000 Glen announced “… for the foreseeable future, the OES will continue to publish the Newsletter in both hard copy form as well as the Web based electronic versions, with the hard copy version delivered to all the members …” Also, in 2000, the EIC of OESNL, Fred Maltz, was awarded the Distinguished Service Award at the OCEANS conference in Providence, RI.

From page 4 of Summer 2001 issue, one of the first color photos to appear in the NL, Tom Wiener, President of OES flanked by Gloria and Joe Vadus and Judy and Cliff McLain, at a Barbershop Quartet Concert directed by Tom Wiener
From page 11 of the Fallwinter 1999, Former JOE EIC William M. Carey accepting the Distinguished Technical Achievement Award from President Glen Williams

In the winter 2001 issue, John Irza initiated a regular column entitled “Soundings,” which was designed to report on Ocean Engineering news as it appears in the mainstream media. Also, in 2001, color was introduced to the newsletter, and expanded coverage of people and events.  A concerted effort was made in 2002 to provide the members with an upgraded, high quality print version of the newsletter with relevant and interesting content.

In 2003, the strategic management of the OES and plans for revitalization of the AdCom were communicated to the members by the then OES President, Tom Wiener, in a regular series of President’s Messages. In addition, long term OCEANS Conference planning reports were initiated by Joseph Vadus, Vice President International and Life Fellow.  The latter were in the form of editorials and included other non-OCEANS, symposia and workshops. Also, in 2003, increased coverage of non-North American events as UT ’04 International Symposium in Taipei, Taiwan, and US-Baltic 2004 International Symposium in Klaipeda, Lithuania, were given more visibility. This trend will continue beyond 2004 with a Scientific Submarine Cable Workshop in Tokyo, Japan, reported on by Hisaaki Maeda and the symposia on Ocean Electronics in Cochin, India, brought to the attention of the OES by Jim Collins. These and the two-per-year conference plan for OCEANS Conferences, one of which is non-North American, has prompted a call by Tom Wiener, for two new Associate Newsletter Editors, one from Europe, and one from Asia-Pacific. A secondary purpose of this was to strengthen ties with local chapters. John Irza of the Boston chapter was appointed as an Associate Editor of OESNL earlier.

During 2004 and early 2005, the IEEE Newsletters Coordinator, Paul Doto, has been working with the EIC to further improve newsletter graphic presentation, with a distinctive appearance emerging in the Spring 2005 issue.  Also, in 2005, work was started on the OESNL Web Archive to include an XML formatted version in addition to the PDF and HTML versions.  The purpose of this is to gain experience with the forthcoming XHTML standard and to explore possibilities for more efficient newsletter material handling and new options for enhanced newsletter content delivery. This is in keeping with the future goals of partial automation of the newsletter production process and a richer viewing experience for the readers of the newsletter.

In the latter part of 2005, it was voted on by the AdCom to accept paid advertising in the newsletter.  Also, in 2005, two newly appointed Associate Editors of OESNL, John Watson from the Aberdeen  Scotland chapter and Sheng-Wen Cheng from the Taipei Taiwan chapter were welcomed aboard.

The Later Years: 2009 – 2020

Jim Gant was the OESNL Editor from 2009 to 2014 and Fred Maltz continued on as Consulting Editor. Marinna Martini took on the position of editor of the newly created e-newsletter. The e-NL was created to provide for rapid distribution of time-critical items between the quarterly issues of the NL. Marinna passed the torch to Toshihiro Maki for the 2014-2015 years. As the OES activities increased in number and variety, the size of the OESNL expanded. Listings of names of new members joining OES during the previous 3-month period began to appear. Each issue following an OCEANS conference continued to contain photos and poster abstracts for each student in the Student Poster Competition, along with the full paper from the first-place student winner. On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (the July 2012 NL issue) an interesting article appeared by Joe Vadus on events onboard the Titanic leading up to its sinking. Memorable antidotes of deceased OES members appeared during Gant’s editorship, including on Neil Brown, Albert Bradley, Rodney Coates, and Bill Carey. Student competitions were described, including International Submarine Races (U.S.), underwater autonomous vehicles (SAVe/India & SAUC-E/Europe), Underwater Robot Competition/Japan, and National Ocean Science Bowl (NOSB/USA). The increasing number of conferences, symposia and workshops sponsored by the OES were announced and reported, including UT/China’09, Japan’11, India’13; SYMPOL/ India’09, ’11, ’13; Baltic’08, ’10, ’12, ’14; AUV’12, ’14 ; Chile-U.S.’08 Workshop, Techno-Ocean’12; OTC U.S., Brazil, Arctic; GEOSS; and others. In 2015, The OESNL was given a new name, The OES BEACON, Newsletter of the Oceanic Engineering Society.

An Interesting addition added by editor Jim Gant was a series of ocean-related poetry. These included works by Henry Larson (The Vagabond / July’10 issue), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (The Phantom Ship, The Tides, The Tide Rises The Tide Falls, The Sound of the Seas / Dec’10, The Lighthouse / Jan’12, & The Secret of the Sea / Aug’13), Unknown (The Dreadnaught / Jul’12), Walter Mitchell (Reefing Topsails / Jan’13), Jose-Maria de Heredia (Les Conquerants (The Conquistadors, translated into English by Chris de Moustier) /  Jun’14), and a traditional Newfoundland folk song (The Ryans and the Pittmans / Dec’14).

In 2015 the leadership of the OES Beacon was greatly expanded under the new transnational Co-Editor-in-Chiefs, Harumi Sugimatsu (Japan) and Bob Wernli (U.S.), with Kevin Hardy (U.S.) as Associate EIC. Their team included 7 (later expanded to 11) Contributing Editors from various countries across the globe. By this time the Beacon had taken on the form of a glossy magazine filled with high quality photos supporting articles and announcements of the voluminous world-wide activities of the OES. With this the number of pages per quarterly issue had about tripled compared to those of earlier decades (see Figure 1). A very disciplined process was instituted that has ensured that the issues appear on time. Our hats are off to those who continue to contribute to the Beacon and those who do such an outstanding job of organizing and producing what is now such a high-quality OES Beacon, beaming forth the diverse and extensive activities of the Society.

From cover of the September 2019 issue
Average Number of Pages per Issue

Enjoy our past NLs

You can enjoy the NL past issues from ieeeoes.org/publications/oes-beacon/ too!